I learned resourcefulness and frugality early. I was nine years old when my father lost his job and used his skills as a carpenter to put food on the table. Meatless meals, such as bowties and cottage cheese or tomato soup and potato pancakes, were the standard fare, as were leftovers.
The truth of the adage “waste not, want not” was a lesson well learned, for I needed to apply it when my husband and I were raising a family and building a house on one income. I threw nothing away. Even small, one-serving portions of vegetables were saved and used in a stew. Sometimes I forgot about the leftovers stashed in the refrigerator until obnoxious odors sent me on a search-and-pitch mission. At least a healthy growth of mold assuaged the guilt I felt throwing away food.
As the children grew, so did our income, and I began to be less frugal. By the time the empty nest years began, disposable dust rags, toilet bowl cleaning pads, kitchen and bathroom wipes and eyeglass lens cleaning cloths filled our cupboards. It’s easy to become careless when there’s plenty.
Jesus, God’s Son, who had the riches of heaven at His disposal, disliked waste. After He miraculously fed a crowd that numbered close to 10,000 people (the Gospels indicate 5,000 men were fed that day, but that number did not include women and children), He told His disciples to gather up the leftovers.
“Let nothing be wasted,” He said.
Jewish tradition dictated that bread scraps be picked up and saved, since the Jews considered bread, which often represents life, as a gift from God.
What a far cry from our attitude today! A mentality that everything is disposable has spilled over into how we view relationships and life itself. Aborting an unborn child, abandoning a spouse for greener pastures, and assisting the suicide of a chronically ill person demonstrate today’s throw-away attitude: “When you’re done with it or don’t want it, throw it away, whether or not it can still be used.”
The speaker for the 2014 Punxsutawney Christian Women’s Conference, Linda Evans Shepherd, has a daughter who was paralyzed and brain damaged in a car accident when she was 18 months old. Now in her twenties, Laura has a host of ongoing medical problems, but can communicate “yes” and “no” with her tongue. Linda says Laura is doing what she wants to do, which is to live. In spite of their difficult life, this girl is bringing joy to her family.
“Let nothing be wasted,” Jesus said.
Nothing. Not the shards of our fractured lives and shattered dreams. Not broken relationships or wrecked bodies. Gather the fragments and give them to the One who will make each fragment count.
Thank You, Lord, that, in Your hands, nothing is wasted. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read John 6:1–13